<Trapped in the old sewers. My clothes are ruined and the stink is unbearable. #thissucks #worstdayever #sendhelp>
That's what you'd be writing on your phone if it were on, but since the battery is completely dead, you'll have to make do with the old-fashioned notebook. After getting used to the commodity of the new technologies, going back to the pen and paper feels so... weird. Primitive. Not to mention nobody's going to read it in the first place because there's no way you can get a help message out of this "prison", much less your whole self.
But on second thought, the reception here is awful, there aren't many people using the KappaNet yet, there are even less people following your Chirper (they can be counted with just one hand), and there's a high probability that they're tainted and asleep as well. So really, your phone is even more useless in this situation, and you're screwed either way.
Especially with this dreadful premonition you've been getting ever since you ended up stuck in here. You can't shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen, but you just can't put your finger...
"Gah, I'm rambling again," you sigh. "Like that's going to get me out of here! Get it together, girl!"
You slap your cheeks a couple of times, like you do every time you feel stressed. It doesn't relieve you from the burden gnawing at your chest, but at least the itching helps you focus on the task at hand. You don't have anything better to do other than wait for help that you know isn't going to come, so you decide to take this opportunity to begin the draft of your article. If, by some twist of fate, somebody finds you and rescues you, you'll have part of the job done when it's time to write the proper article. If the miracle doesn't happen, at least you hope somebody will eventually find your skeleton and your notepad in a few centuries, which will serve as a reliable source of information for any historian or archaeologist of the whip and cool hat variety. It's a win-win situation!
"... Yeah, no. I'd rather not die if I can help it."
But since you can't, you might as well stop digressing and get writing already. But where should you start? A lot of stuff has happened in these past hours; it's all become blurred in the haze of panic, adrenaline and excitement. What would she do in this situation, you ask yourself. She'd probably say something about the basics of journalism, in that snarky and mocking tone of hers you've come to hate with all of your being.
"Are you daft? That's the most fundamental of the fundamentals! How could you forget?" You do your best impression of the 'pure and honest' reporter. "You must answer the 'Five Ws' first, and then expand on the introduction! But I'm even more of a fool for expecting an amateur to know how to write. Or something like that."
Yet despite the evident scorn she has for you, there's always truth in her words, as much as you hate to admit it. Maybe that's why you've come to depend heavily on that old nosy crow in spite of your escalating rivalry... No, actually, you already looked up to her long before you went freelancer and started your own newspaper. But again, you digress.
This "adventure in search of the truth" has only brought you an ungodly heap of troubles - some of them by your own hand! -, culminating in this mother of all pickles you got yourself into. You should have stayed home like good girls are supposed to do, but noooooo, you had to listen to your "newshound instinct" and satiate your curiosity! Of course curiosity is often the cause of unfortunate accidents like this one, but when everybody is out cold counting sheep in Dreamland, who else is going to get the scoop? Who would cover the newest developments of the taint incident to the masses? Who would leave a record of the events in the Youkai Mountain in these hours of need? That's the job of a reporter, and after spending the last month bedridden with the taint, it was about time you resumed your work. Your newspaper finally had the chance to get the exclusive, and you were all too thrilled to let that golden opportunity pass.
And so you, in your infinite enthusiasm and naivety, decided to leave the safety of your room and explore the mystery in your town. From the moment you woke up, to the untimely blunder you did on-
"No, no no no no no, scratch that," you mutter while you rip the page off the notepad, curl it in a ball and throw it away. "That's no way to start a serious article! I'm a professional reporter, dangit!"
You mindlessly tap the thip of your pen over the rings of the notepad, thinking about the best way to write the article. In the end, after a long deliberation, you decide to sketch it as a chronicle and start from the very beginning. You'll see how it works as you go; for now, you'll just get the first words on paper, which are always the most difficult. The trimming and embellishment will come later.
<<Hatate Himekaidou, reporting the Thunder God's Taint Incident for the Kakashi Spirit News.
The great thunderstorm that followed the loss of electricity in the Youkai Mountain brought with it a terrifying plague that affected the entirety of the Tengu Village, and most of the inhabitants of the Kappa Village. People infected by this taint start losing their motivation, then they lose their energy until their bodies feel heavy and unresponsive, after which they enter a semi-asleep phase, and finally fall into a state similar to coma.
This reporter was one of the first victims diagnosed with the taint, and reportedly one of the first civilians to fall comatose. As the exact origins and effects of this illness were still unknown at the time, there was little hope for a cure to be developed before I lost consciousness. Aware of this, my father lodged me in his house in order to take care of me until the inevitable happened.>>
You spent two weeks of fatigue and agony, sensing your body go numb and heavy without being able to remedy it. The last thing you remember before falling unconscious was that you had made peace with myself, as if you were departing for real from this existence.
You took a sharp breath, making the obscure thoughts in your head go away. It truly felt like you were dying. It was really horrible, something you don't wish anybody to experience. You heard humans go through something similar when they die of old age, but how come they always look so peaceful when they have their final sleep? For you, it was most maddening and terrifying. You heard somewhere that's the fundamental difference between humanity and youkai: the concept of mortality is ingrained in every human soul, while youkai are "supernatural apparitions taken corporeal form" or something like that, and as such you don't truly die.
But again, you digress. That's up for philosophers and religious folk to discuss. You are a journalist, and your goal is to present objective facts.
<<My surprise was great when I awoke in the same room, as if I had just taken a nap and not a month long sleep. The first things I felt were the cramps that squeezed all my muscles tight, but disregarding the mild pain, the distinctive numbness of the taint was gone. There was also a dry, sweet taste filling my mouth, which made me crave for water urgently. When I brought my hand to my lips in wonder, I discovered a sort of yellow powder in the corners.>>
To this moment, you still don't know what it was, or how did it get there, but you have a feeling it was the reason you woke up from the coma, with no trace of the taint left in your body. Someone had fed you the cure while I was asleep - but in your sleepy state, that thought didn't cross your mind until later.
<<I checked my cellphone out of habit, as I do every time I wake up, only to find out the battery had died shortly after the blackout, long ago. The alarm clock was also off. There was no way for me to check the time and the date, so I had no estimation of how long I was sleeping.>>
Your father had apparently forgotten to change the batteries, or simply didn't bother. That was what you believed at first...
<<Still moving automatically, without paying no attention to my surroundings, I dragged my aching body to the bathroom to take a shower and rinse the uncomfortably dry taste from my mouth. However, I found out the was no running water; nothing came out from the tabs.>>
Odd, you thought at that moment, did something happen at the kappa dam that the water supply had to be cut off? That was when your brain finally began to work, and you remembered everything that happened before you fell asleep for good. And you also recalled in your last recollection that your father was beginning to suffer the symptoms of the taint.
<<I hurriedly put on the set of clothes I found on a chair beside my bed and flew downstairs, worried about my father. As I feared, I found him sound asleep in the living room, unresponsive to my frantic screaming and shaking. He, as everyone else in the village, had eventually fallen to the taint too.>>
Could nobody find the cure in time? Was there no hope for the tengu? Despair took hold of your heart, and you almost felt compelled to give up and rock yourself to sleep, hoping everything to be just a nightmare. Then realization struck you: if you were awake, that meant a cure existed! And if there was noone else capable of searching it, the responsibility to find it fell on your shoulders. The opportunity to have exclusive coverage on the incident was definitely just an added bonus.
<<I knew I had to do something, so I took my inoperative cellphone (mostly out of habit), this notepad, a pen (basic tools for a journalist) and my wallet (in case I needed money).>>
You remember you briefly considered taking your father's old camera, but it was too big and bulky to be carried around comfortably, so in the end you decided not to bring it with you. Sure, it's one of the first twin-lens reflex cameras the kappa managed to reverse-engineer from the Outside, and it's of great quality at that, but come on, who carries one of those ugly and heavy boxes nowadays?
In retrospective, that was your biggest mistake today. With your power and a camera, you could have prevented many of the mishaps you went through, and maybe avoid getting trapped in a stinky abandoned sewer. But you didn't, and now you're here, battered and helpless, and it is your fault.
"I suppose I don't have to write every single detail..." You say aloud. "I mean, I have a reputation too! If someone found out the reporter of the Kakashi Spirit News didn't bring a camera with her, I'd become the laughing stock of every journalist in the village!" Not to mention you wouldn't hear the end from her. You know she won't let you forget if she knew. "So, it's okay if I just skip that part, yeah?"
Of course, you don't get an answer back. Logically, because you're the only one in here. There's nobody nearby, eavesdropping you while hiding in the shadows. Nope, nobody at all, right?
"... I should stop scaring myself like that," you sigh again. "I won't get stuff done if I keep panicking over small stuff."
Granted, this is not precisely "small" stuff, but still, your point stands. In fact, why do you need to convince yourself? You're not the kind of tengu who argues with herself when you're alone and nervous. You've been lonely and anxious plenty of times in your room before, and you coped with it fairly well on your own, so this isn't new to you. Who said being a shut-in hadn't any advantages?
"I'd better not continue that line of thought or I'll get even more depressed," You just can't seem to quit sighing today. What's wrong with you? No, don't answer that. A rhetorical question. "Focus, Hatate, focus!"
So where were you? Ah, right, you were writing about the things you took before you left your house. After that, you went to...
Fly around town and scout the area. You must assess the situation before making any move.
The Eientei Pharmacy branch. There should be clues about the taint and the cure in there.
The Garrison. The White Wolves should have reports on the incident that could be useful.
The Tengu Palace. If someone has any idea on what to do in this situation, it's Lord Tenma.
The Moriya Shrine. You're not of the religious kind, but this disaster asks for a miracle.
The Kappa Village. You think there are still survivors and electricity there.
The Kappa Dam. It's the likely source of the blackout in town. Worth checking.
Similar deal to the last two threads. You now control another character with the opportunity to discover more things about the incident, and probably do something to make a difference. However, unlike Marisa and Koishi, you already know how Hatate's part of the story is going to end. This prologue is about what you make the tengu do before she gets trapped inside the old sewers, in a sort of retrospective play.
[X]Fly around town and scout the area. You must assess the situation before making any move.
I have to say, you're doing an awesome job at writing alternate character PoVs. I don't want to be presumptuous, but I really appreciate the manner you depict each character, especially since I know it's not an easy thing to do. You clearly still have the talent, and I'm sure the rest of us are eager to continue participating in this world you've crafted for us.
Onto the vote itself- I'm uncertain how any particular choice is innately superior to the other, so I think that taking the most decisive one, the act of gathering our bearings, would hopefully be more productive than possibly going to any of the following locations and not finding anything. After all, we have plenty of questions, but only a limited amount of choices we can take to answer them.
[X]Fly around town and scout the area. You must assess the situation before making any move.
Naturally, you did what any sensible reporter would do in a situation like this. Before plunging head first into the fray, you need to observe the scenario and get a good view of your surroundings. Basic Journalism 101: Knowing is the half the battle, and 75% the article. Ignoring the preliminary work will only make you look like an uncultured, biased fool who deserves to have your newspaper license revoked.
<<I took flight and watched the town from above. Unsurprisingly, there weren't any people outside; a textbook example of a 'ghost town'. All the citizens of the Tengu Village had gone inside their homes to lay down in bed during their final conscious moments. However, the absence of guards patrolling the walls and streets was a much more worrisome matter.>>
Needless to say, without guards, the village was absolutely defenseless against invaders. Not that it matters much in this time and place, because humans rarely if ever attempt to cross the forest at the hillside, and the tengu's reputation already do a nice work at dissuading unwanted visitors. Regardless, the White Wolves still have a couple of patrols walk around in case there's a human too curious for his own good. But now, after the taint struck, there was absolutely noone to prevent trespassers from waltzing in.
"Actually, what if that was the intention all along?" You ponder aloud. "Maybe the taint is just a convenient and effective way to dispose of our guards and get free way into the palace to steal information, or..."
You stop there when you realize how silly that is. You're beginning to sound like one of those crazy conspirationists everybody loves to laugh at. Without evidence, what you were thinking is nothing but mere conjecture, and there is no place for half-guessed suppositions in a self-respecting newspaper.
Then again, after that happened, there might be a place for wild expectations. Nobody is going to believe the next part, not without clear photographic evidence. Again you curse your stupidity for not taking the camera. Still, you must write it nonetheless, as incredible as it will seem.
<<With absolutely no warning, three beacons of red light shot up to the sky from different places. The nearest one came from the courtyard behind the Tengu Palace; the second was around the summit of the mountain, near the Moriya Shrine grounds, and the third appeared somewhere in the depths of the forest. As the red beams illuminated the dark night, red clouds appeared from where the rays disappeared in the zenith that slowly covered the whole sky in a scarlet mantle, obscuring the moon and the stars.>>
Your first impression of it was that it was very similar to the scarlet mist of a few years ago. However, while the mist was just that - a mist that blocked the sun -, the red clouds currently covering the Youkai Mountain carry with it something else: an invisible pressure over your whole body; a sense of dread and danger that weights down your shoulders and crushes your chest. You're not even sure if it's physical in nature or just a product of your mind, but all of a sudden, flying became a taxing task that required your undivided attention to not plummet down to the ground, when normally it's second nature.
But that's not something worth noting on an article, you think. Noone reads newspapers to learn how the reporters felt; they want to read about the current events.
<<Shortly after, people started to come out of their houses, but they weren't healed from the taint. Stumbling clumsily against every obstacle in their way, with their eyes closed and their night garments still on them, everyone flocked to the Tengu Palace, all heading towards the beacon. They didn't react to any attempts to wake them up or impede their movements; everybody kept on marching through without paying any attention to their surroundings. At the time of writing, it's still unknown whether the affected were being controlled against their will, or they were all coincidentally sleepwalking towards the same spot, or if it was another stage of the taint.>>
It seemed like it was out of an horror story. Seeing the proud and upstanding tengu tumbling around like drunken oni, it was super creepy and unnerving! True, it was a common sight whenever there was a party the night before, but at least they eventually snapped out when you yelled their names on their ears! Worse still, Father, too, was among the sleepwalkers. He didn't make any sound except his quiet breathing; he didn't listen to any of your shouting, he didn't flinch at any of your slaps, punches or pushes - you even left red marks of your palm in both his cheeks, but he just kept on walking, like a moth to a flame.
Everything was getting out of your control. You knew you had to do something, but what could possibly one frail crow reporter do against a horde of mindless sleepwalkers with attention deficit? Eventually, after you managed to get a hold of yourself and calm down enough to think rationally - and it wasn't easy! -, you decided to...
Follow the group of sleepwalkers and see where they lead you.
Keep attempting to wake people up, by any means necessary!
This is way out of your scope! You need help from outside the Mountain.
Visit a place on your own:
-The Eientei Pharmacy branch.
-The White Wolves' Garrison.
-The Kappa Village.
-The Tengu Palace, and the beacon on the courtyard.
-The Moriya Shrine, and the beacon on its vicinities.
-The Kappa Dam. The third beacon seemed close to it.
Again, sorry for the big delay, although I believe everybody expects that (and that's sad for me). Like always, reality came to kick me in the balls while I was down on the ground, but that's not the only reason this time. You see, initially I intended to make a really long update with heavy plot and stuff, but somewhere in the way I hit a block, and after struggling for weeks, in the ended I decided to cut it short and leave it for the next updates. After all, there is still a chance you'll choose an option and miss the opportunity...
>>179114 And I'm really glad you're still sticking with me even with my irregular as hell timetables! It's because of readers like you that I still find the drive to write.
>>179116 Are you implying my normal characters' PoVs aren't good? I kid, I kid. To be honest, I was getting the feeling my perspectives weren't really that different from one to other. I'm happy to hear I'm apparently doing a good job.
[X]This is way out of your scope! You need help from outside the Mountain.
I can't think of anything better, but considering what's happened, this is certainly outside of our scope. We need help from outside the Mountain considering even the Moriya Shrine seems to be affected.
[X]This is way out of your scope! You need help from outside the Mountain.
There's only so much a tengu reporter like Hatate can do, and I have a feeling that the beacons are a red herring. Right now, she's the only relatively unaffected person who knows what's going on, so we should pull out and try to find somebody else to back us up.
Are you guys really going to fly away from the PLOT? We can run, but we can't hide from the PLOT. The PLOT will catch up with us sooner or later.
[x]Visit a place on your own:
-[x]The Tengu Palace, and the beacon on the courtyard.
I say we meet the PLOT head on and see what happens. Writefag said Hatate will be stuck on the sewers at the end of this part, so that means she will survive no matter what the PLOT throws at her. Considering the kind of story this is, it's a golden opportunity, so we should make good use of it and unleash our tengu reporter powers.
Gonna call the vote here for visiting the Palace, before there's another tie. Looks like Hatate is going to scoop some secrets in the most protected place of the Youkai Mountain... But how are the things there after the curse struck?
>>179492 Callback votes. I like that.
plot? Because if it's the latter, there are some people who seem that they will never catch any plot no matter how hard they try (and god, do they try hard sometimes).